Arizona high court allows upholding of school mask ban ruling

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PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to immediately reinstate a series of new laws that include measures that prevent schools from requiring masks and remove the power of local governments to impose COVID restrictions- 19.

The High Court rejected the request of the Attorney General of the Republic, Mark Brnovich, to allow the entry into force of the provisions of three state budget bills and one entire budget bill. Instead, the court set a briefing schedule for it to consider Brnovich’s request to bypass the Court of Appeal and hear the case directly.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper issued a ruling on Monday preventing the ban on school masks and a host of other state budget provisions from taking effect as scheduled on Wednesday.

She sided with education groups who had argued that the bills were filled with political elements unrelated to the budget and violated the state constitution requirement that subjects be linked. and expressed in the title of bills.


Cooper’s decision paved the way for cities and counties in Arizona to adopt mask requirements and other COVID-19 rules that would have been blocked by budget bills. At least 29 of the state’s public school districts issued mask warrants before the laws came into effect and some immediately extended them after Cooper’s decision.

Republican opponents of school mask requirements and local COVID-19 restrictions are powerless to immediately pass new versions of the laws, even if GOP Governor Doug Ducey calls a special legislative session. That’s because there are two GOP vacancies in the tightly divided House and Republicans no longer have the votes to pass bills without Democrat support.

Cooper’s sweeping move also hit non-virus provisions that slipped into the state budget and an entire budget measure that had served as the vehicle for a conservative policy wishlist. They included a required investigation into social media companies and the removal of the Democratic Secretary of State from her duty to defend election laws.

Brnovich urged the court to overturn Cooper’s decision, saying the groups that sued had no legal right to challenge the bills, that the issue was political and outside the jurisdiction of the courts, and that Cooper had wrongly concluded that they violated the constitution.

“The trial court’s decision has important implications for the functioning of state government and the state will continue to suffer prejudice if the trial court’s decision is not promptly overturned, allowing the contested provisions to be overturned. ‘come into effect immediately,’ wrote attorney Patrick Irvine in his request. it is up to the Supreme Court to take up the appeal directly.

Cooper had rejected similar arguments.

Brnovich also asked Cooper and the state’s Court of Appeals to allow the laws to go into effect, but both rejected the requests on Wednesday.

The fight against school masks and other COVID-19 restrictions has moved into courtrooms across the United States Lawsuits have been filed in at least 14 states for or against masks in schools. They are directly challenging state rules banning masks or local school board policies requiring them.

In Arizona, a coalition of educators and allies have filed a lawsuit challenging laws that prohibit public school districts from imposing mask requirements, colleges from requiring vaccinations for students, and communities to establish vaccination passports for entry into major events, companies and other places. He also challenged a broad invalidation of any other local viral measure.

The coalition argued that large numbers of Arizona’s children would fall ill with COVID-19 if the new laws were not blocked. The restrictions had been written into state budget measures that were passed towards the end of the legislative session in June with the sole support of majority Republicans.

A spokesperson for Ducey, CJ Karamargin, on Monday called Cooper’s decision “clearly an example of judicial overrun.”

Cooper’s decision has far-reaching ramifications for the Legislature, which has long ignored the constitutional requirement that budget bills deal only with spending items. Lawmakers have packed policy articles with them, and this year majority Republicans have been particularly aggressive.


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